Whilst going through my Instagram demographics the other day, I noticed a number of my followers are girls who sit within the 13-18 age range. Because this isn’t my biggest category, I usually create content for the 18-40 age group, on both whatemmadid.com and my Instagram page.
But today, I wanted to kick off the new year with a post dedicated to you younger followers. The teenage girls in school, who might need advice and guidance, or just a bit of friendly support, through those hard-to-handle early teen years.
It’s easy to assume life is a breeze for youngsters – but I’ll never forget how confusing and intense things felt when puberty arrive. I mean, aged 10-14 is probably the craziest: school politics, first crushes, making the step from junior school to high school, etc. And lets not forget raging hormones.
But when I was younger, social media and the internet wasn’t ‘a thing’. But now it is and it only makes the stresses, the comparisons, the perfection and the pressures worse…
When you start puberty, you’ll go through it your own way, but it’s a pretty similar deal for everyone. The things that stressed me out the most was periods, acne, greasy hair, crooked teeth, not being confident in myself, not really understanding who I am, etc etc…
Here’s a number of tips to hopefully give anyone going through this tough time a little support…
1. You’re not alone
Even though you may be changing in your own way, or having your own thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears about what’s happening, know you’re not going through this alone. Try to be open to your Mum, Sister or best friend about how you feel – turns out you’ll get some similar stories back.
But if you do struggle to talk, look at reading some advice and guidance books.
2. Puberty’s different for everyone
Your body will start changing only when it’s ready. You can’t speed it up or slow it down, and don’t compare anyone else to yourself.
I remember some girls grew boobs so early on, and starting taking shape with their bodies and looking more grown up. Me on the other hand, I just exploded with acne and greasy mousey hair, and then my teeth started to cross and I wore a train track braces.
However, I got all of this out of the way within the first few years of secondary school, leaving me to feel a little more comfortable when I reached 15.
3. We’re all built differently
Similar to the point made above, we’re all different shapes and sizes. Some girls are naturally curvier all over, some less so. Whatever your body type, take care of it, as it needs to last your whole life.
If you can be aware of eating quite well from an early age, you’ll benefit. Try to take on a good skincare regime from your early teens, stay active, and try to look at yourself in a positive light.
4. Confidence is attractive
The most attractive people share one feature – confidence. Put a smile on your face and look people in the eye. It’s hard when you feel self conscious, but think about it this wasy: there’s always someone in any group that everyone raves about and you can’t work out why. Chances are she’s confident, and that’s what makes her look good.
5. Handle the hair
Just because you rarely see women with body or facial hair, it doesn’t mean hair isn’t growing. From upper lips and armpits to nipples and chins, it’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. If you decide to remove it that’s your choice, but there are no rules.
It’s common for it to just appear one day and shock you. Learn to accept it and understand it’s part of growing up, and assess the best way to deal with it.
6. What is period blood?
Although we talk about bleeding, it isn’t actually blood that comes out. Your uterus creates a lining each month in case space is needed for an egg to grow (pregnancy). If it’s not needed, that lining breaks down into a fluid which is released during your period. That’s why it’s browner than blood from a cut.
Those first few months getting used to periods can be pretty stressful. You’ll worry about all sorts – especially leaking. Make sure you’re open about periods to your Mum or guardian, as they’ll have been through it themselves and will help settle any worries. It might be a good idea to look at new underwear which helps prevent leaking, like these ‘oh-no’ proof bikini bottoms from Knixteen – a fabulous online retailer.
These briefs look and feel just like any bikini brief but they’ve got a secret weapon hidden inside. It’s in the shape of super powerful moisture absorbing fabrics, making these perfect for teens.
7. Not everyone has a best friend
If you have a few friends you enjoy spending time with, then don’t stress about not having a BFF. Sometimes you can feel the pressure of having a ‘bestie’, but it doesn’t always work like that.
It’s nice to have a few friends you can get on well with and enjoy their company, so don’t stress too much that you’re not finding a connection with one true bezzie. Sometimes, people meet their best friends later on in life, through university, work, and even just randomly through other friends. Hold tight…
8. Talk about bullying
If someone’s being mean to you or bullying you, speak out – no matter whether it’s in real life or online. If you don’t say anything, you’re letting them have all the power and you need to get that power back.
The best way of doing that is not to protect them by keeping silent. Tell a friend for some support, or if you’re worried or scared of being hurt, tell a trusted adult so they can help.
9. Respect your parents
Last but not least, this one is so important but can be difficult for people to see when they are young and feel like their parents are holding them back.
Your parents only want whats best for you, and chances are, your parents are having to adapt to the fact that you’re no longer a little girl. If you want them to treat you with respect, remember it goes both ways. You’ll have days when you’ll want to wail at them for being unfair, but if you’re able to show you listen to their concerns and value what they do for you, they’re much more likely to recognise and respect the young woman you’re becoming.